Walter Defends Sarajevo

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Valter brani Sarajevo
Valter Brani Sarajevo.jpg
Valter Brani Sarajevo film poster
Directed by Hajrudin Krvavac
Produced by Petar Sobajic
Written by Đorđe Lebović (main writer)
Hajrudin Krvavac
Savo Pređo
Momo Kapor[1]
Starring Velimir Živojinović
Ljubiša Samardžić
Rade Marković
Music by Bojan Adamič
Cinematography Miroljub Dikosavljevic
Edited by Jelena Bjenjaš
Production
company
Bosna Film
Release dates
  • April 12, 1972 (1972-04-12) (SFRY)
  • November 30, 1972 (1972-11-30) (PRC)
Running time 133 minutes
Country Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Language Serbo-Croatian
German

Walter Defends Sarajevo (Serbo-Croatian: Valter brani Sarajevo, Валтер брани Сарајево) is a 1972 Yugoslav partisan film, directed by Hajrudin Krvavac and starring Velimir Živojinović.

Plot[edit]

In late 1944, as the end of World War II approaches, the Wehrmacht's high command determines to withdraw General Alexander Löhr's Army Group E from the Balkans back to Germany. They plan to supply the tank columns with fuel from a depot in Sarajevo. The Yugoslav partisans' leader in the city, a mysterious man known as Walter, presents a grave danger to the operation's success, and the Germans dispatch Standartenführer von Dietrich of the SD to deal with him. As no one in the city seems to know even how Walter looks, Dietrich manages to have an operative infiltrate the resistance under the guise of Walter himself. The partisans are caught in a deadly game of betrayal, fraud and duplicity while trying to frustrate the Germans' plans.

Iconic ending[edit]

At the end of the movie, von Dietrich muses that he has finally realised why he never managed to defeat his nemesis Walter; standing on a hill he points at Sarajevo below and remarks in German: Sehen Sie diese Stadt? Das ist Walter! ("You see that city? That's Walter!"). This was intended to send a message of unity consistent with the official politics of the multi-ethnic state of Yugoslavia.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Although not aiming to reflect history, the film's leading character was named after the partisan leader Vladimir Perić, known by his nom de guerre 'Walter', who commanded a resistance group in Sarajevo from 1943 until his death in the battle to liberate the city on April 6, 1945. Hajrudin Krvavac dedicated the picture to the people of Sarajevo and their heroism during the war.[2]

The film marked the beginning of Emir Kusturica's career in cinema. Sixteen years of age at the time, it was his first appearance on film in a small role playing a young communist activist.[3]

Release[edit]

The film premiered in Sarajevo on Wednesday, 12 April 1972 in front of 5,000 spectators at the recently built Skenderija Hall. The venue thus hosted another lavish partisan film première, two and a half years after Veljko Bulajić's Battle of Neretva premiered in October 1969. Marshal Tito wasn't in attendance this time, though the premiere still saw its share of Yugoslav celebrities and functionaries including the film's cast as well as the Red Star Belgrade head coach Miljan Miljanić, actress Špela Rozin, Skenderija's director and former Sarajevo mayor Ljubo Kojo,[4] Bosna Film chairman Neđo Parežanin, etc. Following the premiere, a lavish invitation-only dinner was organized at Hotel Evropa.[1]

Reception[edit]

Walter Defends Sarajevo received a favorable response from the Yugoslav audience, especially in Sarajevo itself.[5]

The picture was distributed in sixty countries,[6] and achieved its greatest success in the People's Republic of China, becoming the country's most popular foreign film in the 1970s.[3] Owing mainly to the Chinese audience, Walter Defends Sarajevo became "one of the most-watched war films of all time."[2]

Although it conveyed conservative political messages and stressed the brotherhood and unity of the population in the face of foreign occupation,[5] the film also became a cultural icon for the New Primitives' punk sub-culture: Zabranjeno Pušenje, one of the movement's leading bands, named their first album Das ist Walter, in honour of the film.[2]

In China, children and streets were named after characters from the film, and a beer brand called 'Walter' was marketed with Velimir Živojinović picture on the label. It still enjoys great popularity in the country.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Marjanović, Višnja (April 1972). "Valter odbranio Sarajevo i - oduševio gledaoce!". RTV Revija. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Pavle Levi. Disintegration in Frames: Aesthetics and Ideology in the Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Cinema. Stanford University Press (2007). ISBN 978-0-8047-5368-5. pp. 64-66.
  3. ^ a b Goran Gocić. Notes from the Underground: The Cinema of Emir Kusturica. Wallflower Press (2001). ISBN 978-1903364147. p. 16.
  4. ^ Zlatar, Pero (April 1972). "Danas je petak u redakciji Pere Zlatara". Studio. Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Robert J. Donia. Sarajevo: A Biography. University of Michigan Press (2006). ISBN 978-0472115570. p. 238.
  6. ^ a b Dina Iordanova. The Cinema of the Balkans. Wallflower Press (2006). ISBN 978-1904764816. p. 115.

External links[edit]